Paris 1868

 

(1868)

The Times

Velocipedes – Anybody who has visited Paris within the last few months cannot have failed to notice the large number of velocipedes going to and fro, especially in the evening; indeed, the number that may now be seen any evening in the Champs Elysees is so large that a recent police edict compels the riders to affix a lamp to them in consequence of the accidents that have happened from their use. According to some investigations that have been made, it has been ascertained that on a good road, where the gradients are not much greater than on railways, the rider may travel fro 80 to 100 kilometres in a day, which is about the same speed as the mail-coaches used to attain in France; and that this may be done several days in succession, without over fatigue, by a moderately strong man. Very much, however, depends on the perfection with which the machine is constructed. If it is unskilfully made, the fatigue of working it is so greatly increased that it ceases to be a pleasure and becomes an exceedingly laborious exercise. It is not the case, as has been stated, that the rate of speed is in exact proportion of the force employed. On a hard, level road the traction is so small, owing to the narrowness of the wheels, that it runs along with great rapidity by the momentum given to it, and with the expenditure of very little force on the part of the rider. Of course where the roads are soft, or there is a steep hill to ascend, the labour of propelling it is increased in proportion to the depth and nature of the soil and the steepness of the ascent. The cost of the best velocipedes in France is about 12L, but they will probably be manufactured at a much lower price in England if they come into extensive use, as is not unlikely, considering that they afford opportunities for vigorous exercise, in addition to the facility with which long journeys may be made by them. As it may some day be deemed interesting to know the name of the inventor of the velocipede, it may be mentioned that authentic records exist showing that Nicephorus Niepce, one of the earliest of the discoverers of photography, wrote from France to his brother, then living at Hammersmith, an account of his having invented the machine – the letters in which he communicated the fact to his brother being still in existence, and bearing the postmark of the two countries – Once a Week.

(The Times, Thursday, Nov 19, 1868; pg. 3; Issue 26286; col F)

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